Europe’s Last Nomads

1 x 52 mins / 45 mins
Worldwide except for France, Spain and Wales

A spectacular ancient tradition is being revived right across Europe: shepherds leading flocks across the continent through the most savage and extreme landscapes. On the Similaun glacier at 2,800 meters in South Tyrol, inexperienced sheep plummet from the hazardous path or freeze to death in snowstorms. But crossing the Alps is not the longest trek in Europe. From Spain’s legendary La Mancha plains, the last cowboys of this continent and their cattle migrate into the green highlands of Cuenca. During their five week marathon, both humans and animals face tremendous summer heat and desert-like conditions. Meanwhile, in southern France, herds of 3,000 sheep cross the spectacular plateaus of the Cevennes. Each sheep carries up to 5,000 seeds in its coat and spreads these en route, linking isolated biotopes. In Romania, sheep climb the Carpathian Mountains, all the way to the Ukrainian border under the constant threat from wolves. In Europe’s far west, on a Welsh island, migrating sheep even generate a habitat for rare birds. Across the continent, many animals and plants depend on these nomads: the last Imperial eagles, wolves, bearded and griffon vultures, as well as some insect and bird species.

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